Best Friends Animal Society

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Best Friends Animal Society
Founded 1991
Founder Michael Mountain, et al
Focus Animal welfare, animal rights
Origins Foundation Faith of the Millennium;
Process Church of the Final Judgment
Key people Gregory Castle, CEO & Cofounder
Slogan "No More Homeless Pets"
Website Best Friends

Best Friends Animal Society, founded in its present form in 1991,[1] is an American nonprofit 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization. Best Friends works nationwide in outreach programs with shelters, other rescue groups and members to promote pet adoption, spay-and-neuter services, and humane education programs.[2]


What became known as the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary originated in Arizona in 1971,[3] developing from The Foundation Faith of the Millennium, a religious group formerly known as the Process Church of the Final Judgment.[4]

The Foundation church relocated animals from an Arizona ranch to property near Kanab, Utah, in 1984.[5] In 1991, the church was renamed Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which became a tax-exempt, nonprofit charity, and in 2003 renamed Best Friends Animal Society.[6]

The sanctuary[edit]

After the Foundation church moved to the current sanctuary grounds in 1984, the founders eventually began informally calling it "Best Friends" until 1991 when it officially began operating as the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a large no-kill shelter[7] located in Southwestern Utah in Angel Canyon (formerly Kanab Canyon) near Kanab.[8]

The sanctuary is on 3,700 acres (15 km2) owned by Best Friends, with an additional 33,000 acres (130 km2) leased from the United States Bureau of Land Management near Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon's North Rim, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Lake Powell.

National Geographic Channel's DogTown series was filmed at the sanctuary,[9] where animals are housed.

Los Angeles shelter[edit]

In August 2011, the City of Los Angeles allowed Best Friends to operate and manage its Northeast Valley Shelter, which the city could no longer afford to run. Under the contract, Best Friends was to provide adoptions for shelter animals and spay and neuter services for the community.[10][11]


The group also publishes Best Friends, a bimonthly magazine about animals, animal welfare, news events, and activities at the sanctuary. The magazine, according to the group's website, has 200,000 subscribers, which is distributed free to members.[12] Originating as the Foundation magazine in 1975, the first edition of Best Friends magazine was published in 1993 after the name change two years earlier from a religious group to an animal sanctuary.[13]

Work after Hurricane Katrina (2005-2010)[edit]

Best Friends' official role in post-Hurricane Katrina operations was that of a primary animal rescue organization.[14] Best Friends’ teams entered the hurricane disaster area on September 2, 2005 and worked 249 days in and around New Orleans.[15] Best Friends did not have a significant presence doing animal disaster rescue or recovery work prior to Hurricane Katrina.

After Katrina, Best Friends expanded its animal rescue work by providing the staff and resources to help a Pets Alive animal shelter in New York state, rescue approximately 800 cats from an institutional hoarding situation in Nevada,[16] and assist local animal rescue groups in the aftermath of the Peruvian earthquakes of 2007. Best Friends also took in some of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dogs.[17] In December 2008, Georgia, one of the former fighting dogs, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with Best Friends' dog trainer John Garcia.[18] The two also appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" show.[19]

Community cat programs[edit]

In August 2008, Best Friends Animal Society provided funding for a "Feral Freedom" program for community cats (free-roaming cats not belonging to individuals) in Jacksonville, Florida.[20][21] The program, conceived by Rick Ducharme of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, "has feral cats trapped by Jacksonville Animal Control bypass the shelter entirely in favor of being spayed or neutered and returned to the location where they were trapped."[22] The program resulted in a significant reduction in deaths of shelter cats.[22] Best Friends Animal Society developed a publication explaining the program, Save Lives With Feral Freedom: A Guide to the Feral Freedom Program.[21]

Similar programs were later implemented in Albuquerque, New Mexico,[22] DeKalb County, Georgia,[22] San Antonio, Texas,[23] Baltimore, Maryland[23] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[24] and many other communities.[25]

Best Friends Animal Society also participates directly in trap-neuter-return (TNR), funding the spaying and neutering of community cats in Los Angeles, California in a program called Free Fix LA.[26][27] In St. George, Utah, the city partnered with Best Friends Animal Society on a TNR program in January 2013, increasing the save rate for cats from 44% in 2012 to 98% in 2013.[28]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Process Church/Best Friends Articles of Incorporation". Louisiana Secretary of State. 
  2. ^ Article, American Dog Magazine, "Los Angeles Programs Saves Lives in the Entertainment Capital of the World"
  3. ^ Charity Navigator - America's Largest Charity Evaluator
  4. ^ Timothy Wyllie (2009). Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932595-37-6. 
  5. ^ Glen, Samantha (2001). Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary. Kensington. ISBN 978-1-57566-735-5. 
  6. ^ Rocky Mountain News, "Friends Find Their Calling," February 28, 2004 (pay-per-view article)
  7. ^ AR-News: (UT) Best Friends a haven for unwanted animals
  8. ^ Best Friends, an Animal Sanctuary with a Difference, with Faith Maloney, by Diane Cooper
  9. ^ DogTown | Dogtown- National Geographic Channel
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times, "Los Angeles to hand over animal shelter to nonprofit group," August 17, 2011
  11. ^ Los Angeles Daily News', "Nonprofit to run city shelter," August 16, 2011
  12. ^ Article from Albert Lea Tribune, "A close look at Best Friends Animal Society," April 25, 2009[dead link]
  13. ^ The Process Church Timeline (magazine history, page 22)
  14. ^ Manning, Anita (September 3, 2005). "Animal welfare groups rescue abandoned pets". USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  15. ^ Deseret Morning News | Art spotlights rescue of New Orleans pets
  16. ^ Pahrump Valley Times article, "Volunteers say justice not served, February 19, 2010[dead link]
  17. ^ NBC "Nightly News," "Michael Vick's Dogs Get A Second Chance," May 20, 2009
  18. ^ "DogTown's John Garcia Shares His Story," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," December 15, 2008
  19. ^ CNN transcripts, "Larry King Live," "Does Michael Vick Deserve A Second Chance?" with Best Friends' John Garcia and former fighting dog Georgia
  20. ^ "Program gives feral cats shot at freedom: More than 1,200 strays have been spayed or neutered - and saved from euthanasia.", Tia Mitchell, The Florida Times-Union, Nov. 20, 2008.
  21. ^ a b "Save Lives With Feral Freedom: A Guide to the Feral Freedom Program", Best Friends Animal Society, accessed July 11, 2014.
  22. ^ a b c d "Model Programs", Best Friends Animal Society, accessed Sept. 30, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "The breakthrough idea of the decade", Gregory Castle, The Best Friends Blog, Best Friends Animal Society, June 28, 2013.
  24. ^ "City shelter wins $700k grant to save cats", Amy Worden, The Inquirer, August 25, 2014.
  25. ^ "First Coast No More Homeless Pets Annual Report 10.01.12-9.30.13", at p. 9.
  26. ^ "Seeing stray cats? Neuter or spay for free!", Best Friends Animal Society, accessed Sept. 30, 2014.
  27. ^ "Abandoned cat finds help, hope and true love.", Denise LeBeau, Best Friends Animal Society, November 8, 2013.
  28. ^ "St. George, Best Friends working together to save lives of community cats", Best Friends Animal Society, Jan. 8, 2014.

External links[edit]